UPDATE 1-Carrefour sells Malaysia unit to Japan's Aeon

Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:38pm EDT

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PARIS, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Carrefour said on Wednesday that it made final the sale of its operations in Malaysia for an enterprise value -- including equity and debt -- of 250 million euros ($323.95 million) to Aeon, Japan's No. 1 supermarket operator.

The sale -- effective on Wednesday - is the latest notched up by recently installed chief executive, Georges Plassat, who is seeking to refocus the world's No. 2 retailer on its key markets and cut its debt after years of underperformance.

Carrefour is the fourth-largest retailer in Malaysia with 26 hypermarkets, which brought in 400 million euros in revenue in the 12 months to June 30.

"The transaction is part of Carrefour's strategy of refocusing on its core activities and allocating its resources to mature countries where it occupies strong and established positions and emerging markets where it has strong growth potential," the company said in a statement.

Aeon, Japan's top supermarket operator, which began as a Kimono store in the late 1700s, is looking for overseas profit drivers as its business at home is hurt by a fall in consumer spending, a shrinking population and persistent profit-sapping deflation.

Carrefour recently agreed to sell its stores in Colombia to Chile's Cencosud for $2.6 billion.

It also plans to shut its Singapore unit by year-end and pulled out of recession-hit Greece in July amid falling sales.

Plassat has made clear Carrefour will stay in Brazil and China, but analysts expect disposals in Indonesia, Turkey, Romania and Taiwan, with proceeds of between 1 billion and 3 billion euros.

The Malaysia unit sale talks were first reported by Reuters in September.